Darwall, John

Composer

b Haughton, nr Stafford, Staffs 1731, d Walsall, Staffs 1789. Born into a clerical family; entered Manchester Grammar Sch as a boarder at 16 and Brasenose Coll Oxford at 20; BA 1756, later BD. Ordained in 1756, he was curate to his father at Haughton near Stafford, then at Bushbury (now W Midlands) and Trysull (Staffs); in 1761 he moved to St Matthew’s Walsall, still as curate, becoming vicar in 1769 and remaining until his death 20 years later. His first wife Mary died in 1765, leaving him with 5 children; just over a year later he married another Mary, née Whateley. (She was already a published poet commended by John Wesley and later also a hymn-writer). Both Mary’s were clergy daughters; the second one produced 6 more children. A keen amateur musician, John composed piano sonatas (2 vols), hymn-tunes and two-part tunes for each of the Psalms including his single masterpiece, included here as in most English-language hymnals. His sermons and other writings featured several political pieces. He died in the week before Christmas, 9 days short of his 58th birthday. John W Wilson’s monograph, John Darwall and the 148th Metre, was published posthumously by the Hymn Society in April 2002 (Occasional Paper, 2nd series No.5), completed and prepared for publication by Ken Bowden. (A later Darwall—LJTD—discovered westgallery tunes which were ‘rescued’ and reprinted by P Dearmer.) No.202=548.

Tunes and arrangements by Darwall, John

Tune Name
Darwall’s 148th